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Clinton Cautions Taiwan, China to Resolve Differences Peacefully (Reviews many foreign policy issues in July 21 press conference) (1530)

Clinton Cautions Taiwan, China to Resolve Differences Peacefully (Reviews many foreign policy issues in July 21 press conference) (1530)

Title: Clinton Cautions Taiwan, China to Resolve Differences Peacefully (Reviews many foreign policy issues in July 21 press conference) (1530)

Translated Title:



Date: 19990721

Text: USIA White House Correspondent

Washington -- The United States "would view with the gravest concern" if China and Taiwan were to abandon efforts to resolve their differences peacefully, President Clinton says.

"I think we need to stay with one China. I think we need to stay with the dialogue, and I think that no one should contemplate force here," Clinton said during a July 21 news conference in the East Room of the White House, in which he also discussed a number of other foreign policy issues involving the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Latin America.

Regarding Taiwan and China, "our policy is clear. We favor the one-China policy, we favor the cross-Strait dialogues. The understanding we have had all along with both China and Taiwan is that the differences between them would be resolved peacefully. If that were not to be the case, under the Taiwan Relations Act we would be required to view it with the gravest concern," Clinton said.

"The pillars of the policy are still the right ones. The one-China policy is right. The cross-strait dialogue is right. The peaceful approach is right, and neither side, in my judgment, should depart from any of those elements."

Clinton said he believes that both China and Taiwan understand this. "I believe that they want to stay on a path to prosperity and dialogue. And we have dispatched people today, as the morning press reports, to do what we can to press that case to all sides. This is something that we don't want to see escalate."

Asked if Taiwan's President Teng-hui Lee was unnecessarily provocative in trying to redefine the nature of the Taiwan-Chinese relationship in his recent statements to Deutsche Welle, the German broadcasting network, Clinton said he is "still not entirely sure" exactly what the Lee statements were trying to convey.

He said a Pentagon mission to Taiwan to assess the air defense needs there was delayed because he did not think "this was the best time to do something which might excite either one side or the other and imply that a military solution is an acceptable alternative. If you really think about what's at stake here it would be unthinkable," he said.

Regarding the Middle East peace process, Clinton revealed he had talked earlier July 21 by phone with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat to report to Arafat results of the just-concluded meetings in Washington he had held with Israel's new Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Clinton said he told Arafat that Barak "was committed to working in partnership" with the Palestinian leader and would honor "any agreements that had been made to this point, and that any modifications they made going forward to the benefit of either or both sides would have to be done by mutual agreement."

Clinton said he thought Barak "was completely committed to resolve all the issues outstanding in the peace process in an expeditious manner."

Clinton said he urged Arafat to have a one-on-one meeting with Barak, "hear him out, think it through, and if he wanted to talk to me again after the meeting occurred that I would be happy to talk to him," and he said he did, Clinton said.

The President said he went out of his way in his conversations with Arafat not to support or reject Barak's proposals, but simply to say that he "was convinced they were being made in complete good faith and that the peace process would be revitalized."

Regarding the relationship between Syria and the United States, Clinton said he was quite encouraged by the statements that have been coming out of Syria "in terms of the regard that (Syria's) President Assad seems to have for Prime Minister Barak and the willingness, the openness that there is to negotiating and working toward peace. So I'm encouraged by that."

On another matter, Clinton said he "was reluctant to say anything" about recent Iranian student demonstrations against government policies "for fear that it will be used in a way that's not helpful to the forces of openness and reform.

"I think that people everywhere, particularly younger people, hope that they will be able to pursue their religious convictions and their personal dreams in an atmosphere of greater freedom that still allows them to be deeply loyal to their nation.

"And I think the Iranian people obviously love their country and are proud of its history and have enormous potential. And I just hope they find a way to work through all this and I believe they will."

Regarding the upcoming summit in Sarajevo, Bosnia, of more than 30 national leaders to jumpstart investment in southeastern Europe, Clinton said he hoped "very much that there will be some positive, concrete commitments that come out of the meeting that we're going to have.

"I do not believe we can achieve the future we want in the Balkans and avoid future ethnic conflicts unless there is a unifying vision which both brings the Balkan states closer together in their economic and political self-interest and then brings the region as a whole closer to Europe.

"If what we have done in Bosnia and what we have done in Kosovo," he said, "is to have lasting benefits, we have got to find a way to create closer unity among the Balkan states themselves and then with the region and Europe. And that is what I am working on."

Clinton said he was "very disappointed" on the breakdown of the peace process in Northern Ireland, but said "neither side wants to abandon the Good Friday agreement. And that's very important."

He noted that George Mitchell, the former U.S. Senator from Maine, has agreed to again help Northern Ireland find a way for the Protestant and the Catholic sides there to resolve their remaining differences.

"I can't think of anybody better to try to work through it than George Mitchell because he's got it all in his head and he's put three years in it," Clinton said. "So my instinct is that we will get this worked out."

If it is resolved, he said, "it will give great impetus to the forces of peace throughout the world."

The President said he thinks that the United States "should be more involved in Africa" and noted efforts he has made to involve the United States in that part of the world.

"I did everything I could to head off" the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea "and we are still actively involved in trying to stop that," he said.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson "played a significant role in trying to end the awful carnage in Sierra Leone, and I'm very grateful for that," Clinton said.

The United States, he added, is now working with Nigeria to try to stabilize the region. "We are training African militaries and the Africa crisis response corps so that we can hopefully prevent further carnage.

"And of course the announcement" July 19 by Vice President Gore asking the U.S. Congress for an increase of $100 million to fight AIDS "in some ways may be the most important thing we can do to save lives there," Clinton said.

Clinton also discussed the agenda for his planned meeting in October with Mexico's President Ernesto Zedillo, and whether he would bring up the question of extradition to the United States of major drug lords. He noted that "we had no extraditions between Mexico and the United States for a long time, and we have actually had some now. So we're moving in the right direction. And President Zedillo and I have been pretty successful in continuing to move our relationship in the right direction so we'll work on that."

Asked whether the Clinton Administration was prepared to give Colombia the $500 million Colombia's President Andres Pastrana was requesting to support the military against the guerrillas, Clinton said he was "not prepared to make any kind of dollar commitment today, but let me say, I have stayed in close touch with President Pastrana, and I admire the fact that he has really thrown himself into trying to end the civil conflicts in Colombia, to stop the insurgency.

"The people in the United States have a real interest in that because I think that until the civil discord in Colombia is brought to an end, it is going to be much, much harder for us to restrain the activities of the narco-traffickers there and their reach," he said.

"So in addition to wanting a neighbor and a democracy in Latin America to be free of the kind of violence and heartbreak that the Colombian people have undergone because of this, it is also very much in our national security interests to do what we can, if we can be helpful in ending the civil conflict so that Colombia can be about the business of freeing itself of the influence of the narco-traffickers in ways that would be good for Colombians and good for us as well." NNNN

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Language: ENGLISH
Word Count: 1530
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